Crime in Glina Prison II

The proceedings against Ranko Pralica and Stanko Palančan, who were validly sentenced in 1993 in absentia to 20 years in prison for a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners, was re-opened at the Sisak County Court.

Following the re-opening of the proceedings, the prosecution attorney abandoned criminal prosecution.

 

Course of the proceedings

The indictment No. KT-167/92 dated 25 November 1992 issued by the Sisak District Public Prosecutor’s Office charged Ranko Pralica and Stanko Palančan with the commission of a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners.

You can see the aforementioned indictment here. (in Croatian)

The defendants were tried in absentia.

In the verdict No. K-23/92 passed by the Sisak District Court dated 5 February 1993, the defendants were found guilty that in the period between August 1991 and 31 March 1992 in Glina, the defendant Pralica as the inspector of the so-called SAO Krajina Military Police and the defendant Palančan as the captain of chetnik-terrorist formations, ordered prison guards and unknown members of chetnik-terrorist units to detain captured civilians and members of the Croatian National Guard (hereinafter: the ZNG RH) captured during the armed conflict into solitary cells, to torture and beat them, which these followed and beat the detainees almost on a daily basis. As a result of the beating, civilians Ivica Pereković, Pavao Štajduhar and Branko Žilić and a member of the ZNG RH Joso Kaurić sustained severe physical injuries, civilians Milan Litrić and Ante Žužić went missing, civilian Ivan Palajić died as a result of injuries sustained, and so did members of the ZNG RH Borislav Litrić, Stjepan Šmisl and Ivan Gregurić.

Due to the commission of a war crime against civilians and a war crime against war prisoners, each defendant was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

You can see the verdict of the Sisak District Court here. (in Croatian)

However, the Sisak County State’s Attorney’s Office requested on 6 February 2009 the re-opening of the proceedings.

In the request for re-opening of the proceedings it was stated that Janko Pralica and Stanko Palančan were found guilty and sentenced in absentia on the basis of testimony provided by one witness alone (Pavao Štajduhar).

The request is based on the fact that several persons were sentenced because of the same act, which could have committed by only one person or some of them.

Namely, in the criminal case before the Sisak County Court No. K-22/06, the defendant Rade Miljević is charged that on 20 September 1991 he brought the detained civilians Janko Kaurić, Milan Litrić, Borislav Litrić and Ante Žužić out of the Glina Prison and handed them over to unknown persons for liquidation, after which the victims were killed by firearms shots on the Pogledić Hill above Glina.[1] Thus, Pralica and Palančan were sentenced for the disappearance (of Milan Litrić and Ante Žužić) or killing (of Borislav Litrić) for which the defendant Rade Miljević was charged and for which the aforementioned defendant had already been found guilty twice by the Sisak County Court verdicts.

Besides, in the verdict issued by the Sisak District Court No. K-25/92 on 22 January 1993, Đuro Birač and additional 11 persons were sentenced for a war crime because they killed Ivo Palaić, Stjepan Šmisl and Ivo Gregurić, meaning the same persons for the killing of whom Pralica and Palančan were sentenced, as well.[2] Đuro Birač was sentenced because, as the Prison Director, he ordered the abuse of Ivo Palaić, Stjepan Šmisl and Ivo Gregurić who died due to injuries sustained.

Pralica and Palančan were sentenced for ordering the abuse (killing) of the same victims[3].
In the request for re-opening of the proceedings it was also stated that in the case K-25/92 witness Pavao Štajduhar testified on 22 January 1993 that Đuro Birač and his men came into detention cells and separated people, after which they were abused and that, after one such beating, Ivo Palaić died, while Stjepan Šmisl died after another beating.

The ŽDO stated that, consequently, Đuro Birač and his men were responsible for the suffering of the abovementioned victims.

The request is also based on subsequently established facts in the proceedings against the defendant Miljević. Namely, it was established that Milan Litrić, Borislav Litrić, Janko Kaurić and Ante Žužić were killed by firearms shots and not due to physical injuries sustained.

You can see the request for re-opening of the proceedings here. (in Croatian)

In the ruling of the Extra-trial Chamber of the Sisak County Court No. Kv-134/09 of 6 February 2009, the request for re-opening of the proceedings filed by the Sisak ŽDO was accepted.

You can see the aforementioned ruling on the re-opening here. (in Croatian)

The main hearing was scheduled for 29 September 2009, but before it began the Sisak Deputy County State’s Attorney Ivan Petrkač forwarded a submission to the case file in which he stated that he abandoned criminal prosecution against the defendants Pralica and Palančan.

We do not have the information whether the court passed a ruling on the termination of proceedings.

 



[1] Rade Miljević was found guilty on two occasions in the verdicts passed by the Sisak County Court (in 2007 and 2008), however the Supreme Court of the RoC on both occasions quashed the sentencing first instance verdicts. The third (the second repeated) main hearing should have started on 15 October 2009, but it was postponed due to the defendant Miljević’s illness.

[2] The main hearing in the re-opened proceedings in this case is ongoing at the Sisak County Court. The re-opening was requested and the criminal proceedings were renewed with regard to all the defendants in this case except the 1st defendant Đuro Birač.

[3] One should note that in both cases (K-23/92 and K-25/92) the President of the Trial Chamber was Judge Željko Barać. The verdicts were passed within several weeks (22 January and 5 February 1993, respectively). In both cases Ivan Petrkač, at the time Deputy Sisak District Public Prosecutor, represented the prosecution. The explanation of the sentencing verdict against Pralica and Palančan literally states the following: “The court-appointed defence counsel determined that the evidence presented during the proceedings lead to the conclusion that the defendants indeed committed the criminal acts with which they were charged, pursuant to which he proposes to take into consideration mitigating circumstances when determining the sentence”.

The aforementioned speaks about the enormous quantity of non-professionalism and/or bias among the aforementioned parties in these proceedings.